The Tamil Nadu film industry today stopped working and came onto the streets for a one-day protest expressing solidarity with the former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was convicted in a corruption case by a court in Bangalore and sentenced for four years. This will be the second time this year the industry has come to roads to protest. Earlier this year the industry staged protest against Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes.
“Let me state that this is not a protest. We are shocked and saddened by the verdict and this is to show our support to her in these difficult times. We are hoping she would soon be acquitted from the case and come back as Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister,” said Director Vikraman, President of Tamil Nadu Film Directors Association. Most of the representatives, who have participated in the fasting, have said while they don’t want to argue about the verdict but the way Jayalalithaa has been treated is not acceptable.
Radharavi, an advocate-turned-actor and politician said: “She was the Chief Minister of a state for three times, she is a lady. Making her sit in a bench, and making her walk up to the jail is not good.” He alleged that going by the sequence of incidents it is all well planned. The day chosen for the verdict, which is followed by Dasara holidays, so that an appeal cannot be filed immediately.
“We are not here under any compulsion or threat from anyone. The CM has supported the film industry in many ways, which is why we are here to support her,” said actor-turned politican Sarath Kumar. Actor Srikanth said, “She is a part of or our family. This is not a protest; we are expressing solidarity with her at this hour of crisis.”
The loss for the film industry owing to the one-day strike would be around Rs 50 crore, according to industry sources.
While emotion and solidarity is one side of the story, the other side of the story is the film faternity has more attachment to Jayalalithaa compared to DMK Supremo.
Industry sources said that during AIADMK regime the industry has benefitted more than DMK’s. They alleged that there were instances of political interference in the industry in the previous regime and its alleged attempts to dominate Tamil film industry.
AIADMK Government in the past has provided incentives to small producers by increasing subsidy and providing Rs 50 lakh for the Chennai International Film Festival and including more and more workers from the film industry in the list of beneficiaries of welfare schemes.
Above all, it was during AIADMK’s regime when video piracy was brought under the Goonda Act, which is being hailed as exemplary by other States. Her administration has also granted a piece of land to establish an office for the directors’ association.
On today’s protest among those who attended the fast included Vikraman, Selvamani, S A Chandrasekhar, Sarath Kumar, Suriya, Prabhu, Vikram Prabhu, Keyar, Sathyaraj, Sibiraj, Ibrahim Rowther, Vijayakumar among others.
The prominent faces missing include Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vijay.
The industry representatives have observed a ‘moun vrat’ or a ‘vow of silence’ and a day’s fast at the State guest house in Chepauk to protest against what it termed ‘trumped-up charges’ and an ‘unfair verdict’ against Jayalalithaa.
Questioning the cine industry’s protest, Meeka Entertainment’s Dhayanidhi Alagiri, who is also the grandson of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) supremo M Karunanidhi, tweeted, “Is the Cine Industry protesting and fasting today in support of Jayalalitha or condemning the court’s decision ??? the Cine Industry has to keep in mind the TAX issues imposed of the movies, THALAIVA & VISHWAROOPAM release problems b4 doing all this.”
He futher posted. “SELF RESPECT ! I think there are a lot of people in the tamil cine industry who lack that… Shame on us… BAYAM(Fear) ! … Lol.”